As a new member of the American Lung Association’s research team, Francisco Cartujano, M.D., received our 2021-2022 Catalyst Award for his project, “Kick Vaping: A Vaping Cessation Text Messaging Intervention for Latino Young Adults.” The project aims to develop and evaluate the practicality and effectiveness of his Kick Vaping initiative, a text messaging intervention to help Latino young adults stop vaping.

We spoke to Dr. Cartujano about his research and how his roots shaped his work.

“I was born and raised in Mexico,” began Dr. Cartujano of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York during our recent interview. “After attending medical school in Mexico, I decided to pursue a career path in research versus clinical work and landed at the University of Kansas thanks to a research fellowship. It was there that I met my longtime mentor, Dr. Ana Paula Cupertino, who studies tobacco control among Latinos.”

Continued Dr. Cartujano, “I find so much value in collaborating with those personally affected by e-cigarettes and vaping to help incite change. The need for an easily accessible interventional tool, such as Kick Vaping, is apparent.”

While Latinos generally have a lower prevalence of cigarette smoking, more and more are turning to e-cigarettes and vaping. In response to a recent survey conducted by Dr. Cartujano and his colleagues, 55% of Latino adolescents were curious about e-cigarettes (e.g., would be willing to try them if offered by a friend) and 19% are currently using e-cigarettes. These latter individuals are exactly who Dr. Cartujano is trying to reach with Kick Vaping.

But Dr. Cartujano isn’t doing it alone. "Consistent with principles of community-based participatory research, I’ve convened a multidisciplinary Community Advisory Board to guide this study,” Dr. Cartujano said, who is developing the text messaging intervention in both English and Spanish. “The Community Advisory Board ensures that the Kick Vaping initiative incorporate Latinos’ perspectives and that our project meets the needs of the community.”

The Kick Vaping initiative will take place in two phases: 1) adapting expertise in smoking cessation to vaping cessation; and 2) pilot testing the intervention with 40 participants for 12 weeks. After the Kick Vaping intervention has shown positive impacts in the pilot study, Dr. Cartujano hopes to eventually roll out the initiative nationwide, helping other communities reduce or prevent vaping.

“Vaping is a public health crisis. Recognizing the population-level concerns, it’s urgent to develop treatment options that reach and engage high-risk young adults. Not only do they use text messages more than any other age demographic, but they’ve also demonstrated interest in quitting vaping. I feel optimistic this intervention will bring about a positive transformation in attitudes and actions,” concluded Dr. Cartujano.

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